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Are you a STAR applicant?

November 9, 2021 by Kelly Kendall-Jones

Are you a STAR applicant?

We’ve been banging on the past few weeks about cover letters, resumes and interviews, and now it’s time to delve into the exciting world of… drum roll please… writing selection criteria. Addressing a set of selection criteria might not necessarily be the way you want to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, but taking the time to do it well can mean the difference between scoring that interview or missing out.

As with your cover letter and resume, employers use selection criteria to determine which applicants are a good fit for the role. Selection criteria describe the skills, abilities, knowledge and qualifications a person needs to do the role well, and can also determine if you’re a good fit for the organisation. All of which means it’s pretty important to get right.

There’s different ways an employer may ask you to address selection criteria. These include addressing them in your resume, in your cover letter or in a separate document. No matter which way is requested, you’ll need to be concise in your responses and give specific examples.

A good place to start is by highlighting the keywords used in the selection criteria. If you’re asked to include criteria in a resume, keywords could be inserted as subheadings in your resume under a heading such as ‘Key skills’. If you’re addressing criteria in a cover letter or separate document, you can break them up into separate paragraphs.

Whichever way you address selection criteria, consider using the STAR technique. STAR stands for:

  • Situation: describe your role and responsibility
  • Task: describe the task, project or outcome you were set
  • Action: describe what you did and how you did it
  • Result: describe the outcomes

For example, if you’re asked to write about your proven ability to work effectively in a team, you might include your involvement in football and how you were chosen to be captain (situation). In your role as captain, you were expected to bring the team closer together and improve overall performance (task). Over the past two years, your dedicated team building exercises (action) have resulted in improved performance and a grand final win (outcome). Kicking goals – pun intended!

A final tip to generate the employer’s interest in you – be sure to address all the criteria. Even if you don’t currently have an example of one of the criteria, mention how you might go about gaining that skill or experience. You may not be able to show that you have all the skills however, with a carefully worded application, you may still score an interview because you’ve shown you can quickly learn new things and transfer your existing skills into new roles.

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